The one or the other may have read my reviews of e.g. the Canon EF 400mm f / 4 DO IS USM or the Sigma 120-300 f 2.8 APO EX DG OS HSM. My latest lens now is the Sigma Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM. As with the blogs mentioned above, this review really is a personal experience report. This is not a test, or even the result of a laboratory evaluation. Those interested, should continue to scan reports in the relevant forums.
As with the Canon EF 400mm f / 4 DO IS USM a diverse usability – especially when traveling – was in the foreground with the acquisition of the Canon 70-200 / 4.0 L IS USM. The lens should be lightweight. On the other hand, I work as a bird photographer who has specialized in photographing as many species of birds for scientific purposes, usually with long telephoto lenses and needed only a lens to close the gap on the lower site. There are also times when I am in the need to make shots or bird habitat or shoot images of birds, which come really close.
Thus a high aperture does not play such an important role, especially in regard to the fact that the lightness of the lens will be negatively affected by the many glass for the lenses. An image stabilizer, which extends the capabilities of hand-held photography down to some exposure level, is, of course, important. After all, the image stabilizer should allow the use of the lens on the ordinary daytimes and should also eliminate the need for a solid tripod. Even more important was that the new lightweight telephoto zoom lens has a weather-resistant design. The Zoom absolutely had to be used under harsh conditions.
So the decision was pretty easy. It should be the Canon EF 70-200 f / 4 L IS USM. The most interesting features are the image stabilizer, the inner focusing system. Additionally it is well sealed against dust and water splashes and of course it performs the Canon-typical high production quality.
After just one year in use and various trips I can draw the following tentative conclusion:
The Zoom offers an excellent resolution especially at the upper end (200mm). The excellent quality is performed already at open aperture. As I do not combine this Zoom with an extender so far, I cannot tell you how useful the performance in the extended telephoto range is. The usual features for a professional Zoom of Canon, the option for full-time manual intervention in the focusing process and restriction of the Autofocus distance area do not matter as much as with the longer Tele lenses. The performance of the image stabilizer is impeccable. Blur during handheld shooting is reliably compensated.
Overall, the lens is lightweight travel companion, which I take on just about any trip. Changing the focal length during a photography session is a breeze. The zoom ring works smooth and exact. The autofocus in combination with the Canon 1D X, or even the Mk IV convinced both in terms of speed and accuracy. The Ultra-Sonic-Motor, (USM ), called autofocus drive provides a fast and fairly quiet autofocus , but which is still clearly audible in comparison to the one of the EF lenses of the 2nd generation of Canon. There are many impressive and sharp photos even of flight shots possible.
What suit my needs very nicely, is the fact that the camera-lens-combination – even with the hood attached – fits into a manageable photo backpack. This is always beneficial if you hike with small luggage some distances through the forest and wants to be ready to fire at all times. A combination of the EF 70-200 f / 4 L IS USM with the Canon ESO 1 DX fits perfect also with attached lens hood e.g. in the Lowe Pro Flipside 300.
As I said above already, I am very satisfied with the Canon Zoom. Also Second hand, this lens is offered now at attractive prices. Whether the value for money fits everyone you must examine by yourself on the basis of your objectives and the financial resources.